When I was a kid, I can remember going to the Pathmark grocery store with my father, and standing there at the end of the checkout lane, bagging groceries while standing on one foot. It was just something that I did. Instinctively, I would tuck one leg up under me, foot pressing against the thigh of the standing leg, and bag groceries like that. Sometimes, I would switch it up between bags of groceries.
It never occurred to me until just recently that most people have kind of a hard time with balance in yoga class. When Robin starts demonstrating something like Tree, or Standing Figure 4, Eagle, or King Dancer, I move into easily, because for me, it feels like a natural thing to do.
Of course, the first time she suggested closing my eyes, I bust out laughing. Yeah, I can balance on one leg, but with my eyes closed? Not!
Then during one class, she suggested that we look at balancing poses as a sort of standing meditation. Woa-ho! For some reason, that suggestion clicked with me. I close my eyes when I meditate (most of the time), so why not close my eyes when it's time to standing in a balancing pose, right?
One afternoon while trying to keep my balance in Tree amidst my wobbling classmates, I thought, yes, this will be less distracting if I close my eyes.
And what do you know? I did it. I didn't wobble. (Much.) I didn't fall.
If I'm having a terrible practice, and I can't stand straight in Warrior or Triangle or any of the standing poses, I can almost always find some stability and some stillness in a balancing pose.
Ironic, since it feels like I spend most of my life chasing after some kind of balance. If I'm working, I worry about what has to be done around the house. If I'm cleaning up the house, I'm worrying about the work that's piling up. If I'm spending quality time with the boys, I'm worrying about work AND the chores that need to be done. You see where I'm going with this?
It's a small comfort that when I step on my mat, I know that I'll at least be able to find a few minutes of balance, no matter what else is going on in my life.